Emi and I to a fault at times, eat what we like. This can mean when we go on vacation to Maui or Kona, we will cook for ourselves rather than risk the disappointment of a bland, overpriced "touristy" meal. We love to eat when we travel, but always find ourselves cooking for ourselves whenever we hop on an inter-island flight off of Oahu.
We were recently in Maui for a wedding and went with a group of ten of our friends. We had a blast. Maui has a lot of great things - amazing beaches, snorkeling, warm tropical weather, a fun night life, but unfortunately the food leaves you wanting more.
For a number of reasons, we've discovered that food in any Hawaiian island location that caters strictly to tourists isn't going to be very good. What about Oahu or Hilo you might be saying? Well those areas are made up of locals and they know how to eat, that's why their food is good.
Even though we cook for ourselves we always incorporate as many things the islands have to offer into our meals. For example, you can't get amazingly sweet, juicy mangos in Seattle like you can in Maui. Here's a few examples of simple, yet great meals to enjoy if you decide to cook for yourself in Hawaii.
Our first night we went back to the tried and true; steak. We brought some Hawaiian Ono seasoning salt with us. This stuff is great and they sell it at Longs Drugs and makes a great present to bring back home to the fam. It's basically seasonings and Hawaiian sea salt. This stuff packs a punch and goes a long way so don't over salt anything. I like to put it on everything from eggs to my meat before grilling.
We also enjoyed the best poke I've ever had. If you go to Hawaii, buy some poke, not from anywhere, but from Safeway. Sounds funny, but they have the best poke and each deli supposedly has their own special recipes. The one we went to had about five different kinds and it was only like $6-$8 a pound. I went to this crappy touristy fish place and they were selling it for $19 a pound and it looked watered down and horrible. The poke I settled on had the fresh tuna, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and avocado; delicious!
Our friends picked up a wasabi poke that was great too. Not too spicy, but with just enough of a kick. I highly recommend getting some Safeway poke when you're in Hawaii. They'll let you sample it and it's actually pretty affordable.
Emi's specialty and my breakfast favorite is her Hawaiian Sweetbread French Toast. She buy's the King's Hawaiian Sweetbread which you can actually buy in most grocery stores in Seattle and makes french toast out of it. Not sure why, but eating it with an ocean view and glass of POG seems to make it taste better, than a cold, drizzly morning in Seattle. We also always buy some Portuguese sausage - spicy is better, but Mollie was being a baby and wanted mild. To finish it all off a nice sweet papaya. Love papaya, I would eat it every morning if it didn't cost $5 a piece, but in Hawaii you can afford to eat it every morning.
Jeremy was our breakfast chef for the trip and actually was a breakfast cook for Emi at her sorority back in the day. I guess I can attribute Emi's love for big weekend breakfasts to Jeremy's cooking.
As you can see he throws everything from the fridge into these eggs and they were delicious. The perfect way to wake up and get ready to hit the beach.
I took this photo to highlight the amazing Hawaiian fruit. We had the best papaya, mango, and pineapple. Make sure to pick some up for yourself next time you go out to Hawaii. Also they make a great any time snack. Their fruit is better than dessert.
We had these really good furikake, garlic fries. Garlic fries usually end me for days, but these were great. They had the garlic taste, without the flaming dragon's breath afterwards. Also the sesame seeds and dried seaweed were an awesome addition to the fries. One of my favorite snacks on the trip. I think we had these at the Aloha Grill in Lahaina.
What Hawaiian or in general tropical vacation isn't complete without a sweet, tropical drink. I say the only time it's OK to have an umbrella in your drink and your pinky up in the air, OK well maybe not the pinky, but a nice refreshing pina colada or Lava Flow (pina colada with strawberry puree) is when you are on a tropical vacation. However disregard in the photo how I have a pina colada and the other girls have beer.
Great trip with great food. We didn't cook for ourselves every day, but it was nice to have a few nice healthy meals every so often. Emi made salad every night and we utilized the BBQ's at our place. We also saved a lot of money and energy because we didn't have to go out to eat every meal. Something to keep in mind for your next trip out to Hawaii.